November 20, 2012
Tuesday, November 20
After casting a wide net in search of an experienced candidate, the Blue Jays have finally settled on their new manager. Manny Acta? Nope. Jim Riggleman? Uh-uh. Jim Tracy? Try again. Mike Hargrove? Well, that would have been a sufficient blast from the past, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos instead dug into his own franchise’s recent history, bringing back John Gibbons, according to a late-night report by veteran Toronto Sun columnist Bob Elliott.
Earlier in the day, the Padres exercised a pair of club options to retain their incumbent manager, Bud Black, through the 2015 season. The move effectively guarantees that Black—who has guided the team to a 464-509 record over his first seven years in San Diego—will be around to coach the next wave of prospects rising through the Padres system.
Apart from Black’s extension, Gibbons’ late-night hiring, and Bud Selig’s approval of the blockbuster deal struck by the Blue Jays and Marlins last week, Monday brought plenty of smoke and very little fire. So, without further ado, here’s some of that smoke:
Mutual interest should eventually bring Raul Ibanez back to Yankees
But the Yankees, needing outfield depth, took a chance on Ibanez that day, bringing him to their camp in Florida on a one-year, $1.1 million deal. It was, in many ways, a perfect fit. New York offered Ibanez a part-time role, in which manager Joe Girardi would, for the most part, be able to mask his deficiencies against southpaws and in the outfield. As importantly, Yankee Stadium was the ideal place for Ibanez to thrive despite diminishing offensive skills: its stingy right-field dimensions enhanced his remaining pop and brought fans the aforementioned magical moments in Game Three of the American League Division Series.
The above spray chart, pasted from Ibanez’s Texas Leaguers page, illustrates how the short porch enabled the New York native to remain a serviceable hitter. Ibanez posted a .273/.349/.545 triple-slash line in the Bronx, compared to a .208/.269/.365 effort on the road, and 14 of his 19 round-trippers came at home. Almost all of those big flies landed to the foul side of the 385-foot mark in right field, and many of them came down just a few rows beyond the fence. Wall scrapers and moonshots count all the same, but many of Ibanez’s homers would have been harmless, warning-track flies had he signed with a different team in the spring.